A Life Journey, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, completed by Elizabeth Nguyen-Espinoza in 2016. The artist used Utagawa Hiroshige’s painting of the Towboats on the Yotsugi Dori Canal as the background to this still life to convey a traveler on a journey. The canal in the painting was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century as part of the system that provided Edo with drinking water. Furthermore, it later became a waterway for passengers on their way to north and east Japan. Although the canal followed an absolutely straight line, Hiroshige used curves to lend a sense of Western art perspective.
In this still life painting, many of the objects are carefully staged to convey the artist’s message. The little monk, the traveler in this painting, is facing many uncertainties during his journey and the enigma of life will raise many questions for him. What will the traveler encounter in his journey? What challenges will he face? Will he encounter luck or hardship? How will his life experiences shape his characters? How will his life journey end or how will he want it to end? Will he have control of his journey or will other variables come into play that will alter his original plan? The least and most important question is how does he want to live his precious life? These are questions the artist wants the viewers to question and reflect on their own life so that they can live a productive and meaningful life.
“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” Oliver Goldsmith